Anti-hunt MPs attack Hain

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Labour MPs reacted furiously yesterday to attempts to bounce them into abandoning a campaign for a ban on fox-hunting.

Peter Hain, the Leader of the Commons, drew cries of "disgraceful" from backbenchers when he hinted that a backbench amendment to the Hunting Bill, to ban fox-hunting outright, could create "technical errors" that would delay the legislation. He said parliamentary lawyers had warned the amendment could contradict other parts of the Bill, making it unworkable.

The current Bill would allow hunts to be licensed for pest control. Many Labour MPs believe it is a "compromise" that panders to pro-hunting MPs, some of whom plan to support it because they believe it will allow them to continue hunting.

Martin Salter, Labour MP for Reading West, said the Government would be "stark staring mad to try to find technical excuses to stop Parliament banning hunting".